Stride climate

Trip Type : River Cruise
Enchanting Danube tour
Bratislava Budapest Enchanting Danube Trip

Enchanting Danube

Uniworld
5.0 . Excellent
100%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
8 days
From: $ 3,399 $ 425 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

The shimmering waters of the fabled Danube River flow for thousands of miles through the very heart of Europe, silent witness to centuries of artistic achievement and historical events. This perfectly composed journey provides an immersive cultural tasting menu of four equally beguiling countries—ideal for first-time river cruisers as well as seasoned travelers seeking to experience yet another dimension of these much-loved destinations.

These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Trip Type River Cruise
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport N/A
Start City Budapest
End City Passau
Find your perfect trip
A vast selection of trips on every continent, for every style. Thousands of itineraries from hundreds of trusted travel companies.
Save time
Use simple search and comparison tools to easily find the best trip. Don't sweat the logistics -- travel providers plan for you.
Save money
Book directly with the operator. Find inclusive packages for the best value and get access to amazing deals.
Travel confidently
Read unbiased user reviews, pick the company that fits your style, and connect with them directly. No worries, just memories.

Itinerary

2019 version

Budapest to Passau


Day 1 - Budapest (Embark)

Port - Budapest

Arrive at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Budapest

Port - Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each has its own distinctive character and charm. Explore this dynamic and multi-faceted city with your choice of tours—see it on four wheels or on your own two feet.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Budapest panoramic highlights and Parliament visit
Excursion Price - $70

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the state opera house, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the truly stunning Parliament Building—to Castle Hill, which has been called the heart of the nation. The city of Buda began here, when King Béla built a strong keep in 1243 as a defense against Mongol invaders; a castle replaced the simple fortress, and over the centuries other castles replaced that one. The current castle is primarily 18th century; a museum dedicated to Budapest’s archaeological finds is housed there, and the Castle Hill district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go inside the magnificent 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for one of Hungary’s greatest kings, and then wend your way on foot to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, whose seven fairytale-like towers represent the seven tribes that originally settled the region. It offers a glorious view of the city and the Danube below.

Note: Visits to the interior of Matthias Church may not be possible on some weekends and Catholic holidays.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Budapest walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Get ready for a fun immersion in the daily life of Budapest— your local guide will show you how to use the metro (one of the oldest in Europe) to easily reach all the city has to offer. Start with a visit to one of the city’s irresistible market halls. Stalls spill over with produce, sausages and meats, festoons of dried paprika, cheeses and jars of honey, all of it authentically Hungarian. After you leave the market, stop for coffee and a sweet treat at Szamos Gourmet Palace, a combination pastry shop, café and chocolate maker in Vörösmarty Square. Marzipan is a favorite confection in Budapest, and Szamos has specialized in making it since the 1930s, so you might want to try some—but the shop’s truffle selection is equally irresistible. Refreshed, you’ll be ready to hop back on the tram for a visit to the gracious green spaces of Károlyi Garden, sometimes described as Budapest’s most charming small park. You’ll ramble along the boulevards and pass the Hungarian National Museum, truly getting the feel for this dynamic city, as you head back toward the ship.


Day 3 - Cruising the Danube River, Bratislava, Vienna

Port - Vienna

Once hidden from the world behind the “Iron Curtain,” Slovakia retains an air of mystery and intrigue, and its small capital city has an unexpectedly colorful history. Learn more about Bratislava’s past from a local expert, then check out the whimsical street art and sample some only-in-Slovakia treats. Your ship sets sail from Budapest and heads for Vienna today. You may opt to relax onboard all day, perhaps enjoying a drink on the Sun Deck and taking in the scenery as the ship wends its way along the Danube Bend, which is lined with scenic towns—among them are the oldest settlements in the country—nestled at the foot of lovely wooded hills. On the other hand, the ship stops in Bratislava for those who wish to visit the capital of Slovakia. Although it’s not a large city, Bratislava has played a leading role in the politics and culture of the region for many centuries, and it is well worth a visit.

Excursion(s) - Bratislava - Small but precious walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

St. Martin’s Cathedral gives you a hint of the surprising history of this city. The Gothic church was built into the medieval city’s fortifications, and 19 Habsburg rulers were crowned inside it, including Empress Maria Theresa. That’s because Bratislava, then known as Pressburg, became the capital of Hungary after the Ottomans conquered Budapest in 1536, a status it retained until the middle of the 19th-century. Close to the cathedral you’ll find St. Michael’s Gate, the last remaining portal of the medieval wall—and your entryway into Bratislava’s Old Town, which blends Gothic, baroque and art deco structures with some less graceful reminders of the Communist era. The stately 18th-century Primatial Palace, in the center of Old Town, was the site where the Pressburg peace treaty was signed in 1805, in which Austria ceded a great deal of territory to Napoleon. Another 18th-century palace, Grassalkovich, is now the president of Slovakia’s official residence. Take some time after the tour to browse through the attractive shops in the lovely art deco buildings that line the squares; you can find a wide selection of traditional folk items at the ULUV (Slovak Folk Culture) shop. And you’ll definitely want to sample some of the local delicacies.

You can either return to the ship with your guide, passing the Slovak State Opera on a leisurely walk, or stay in town to continue exploring.

Excursion(s) - Mozart and Strauss concert
Excursion Price - $70

Experience the sort of entertainment Empress Maria Theresa once enjoyed herself with a private concert of classical music performed by chamber musicians in an exquisite Viennese palace. The music, of course, is by Mozart—but because this is Vienna, it is also by Strauss, and the perfect acoustics in the elegant hall will let you hear their music as if for the first time. Adding to your enjoyment: Beautifully costumed ballroom dancers bring the waltz to graceful life.


Day 4 - Vienna

Port - Vienna

Vienna is a cultural treasure trove revered for its art and music (and sinfully rich pastries). Experience the City of Waltzes with your choice of tours, as well as VIP access to an extraordinary collection of art—you’ll have an opportunity to view it in complete privacy, an extra special treat reserved solely for Uniworld guests. The grand dame of the Danube, Vienna was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remains, to this day, the political and cultural center of Austria. Klimt painted here; Beethoven and Mozart composed here; Freud developed his theories here. It’s a treasure trove of splendid architecture, astonishing art collections and inviting cafés—and it’s yours to enjoy.

You have leisure time after your tour to explore Vienna on your own. You might wish to visit the Albertina Museum, which houses one million old-master prints and an impressive collection of works by 19th- and 20th-century painters, ranging from Renoir to Rothko.If you’d like to get a little exercise and see a completely different side of Vienna, borrow a bike from the ship and explore Danube Island and Prater Park. (For a wonderful view of the region, ride the Ferris wheel in Prater Park.)

Excursion(s) - “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum
Excursion Price - $70

The Habsburgs assembled an astonishing collection of artistic treasures over the centuries, which formed the basis for the works now on display at the Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum). The doors open early especially for you as you join an art historian for a tour of some of the masterpieces gathered here. View a unique group of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Vermeer’s Allegory of Painting, Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, and portraits by Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Titian, Tintoretto, and Van Eyck, among others, in the Picture Gallery. Then move on to the Kunstkammer galleries, where you can see Benvenuto Cellini’s legendary salt cellar (the only gold sculpture he created that has survived to the present day) and hear its remarkable story. Your exclusive tour ends with a reception in the magnificent Cupola Hall, perhaps the architectural highlight of the splendid building.

Excursion(s) - Vienna - Imperial City Highlights
Excursion Price - $70

Ring Street, the great horseshoe-shaped boulevard lined with many of the city’s major landmarks—Parliament, City Hall, the Vienna State Opera, glorious palaces and museums—is a mere 150 years old, practically an infant for a city of Vienna’s age. It replaced the walls and fortifications that had protected the city for centuries. Its construction was a testament to confidence, forward-thinking and grand urban planning, and it resulted in a 50-year building spree. You’ll pass most of these opulent landmarks on your way to the older section of the city, the area the walls once enclosed.

Later, you’ll walk along Kärntner Street, the celebrated pedestrian boulevard that links the State Opera with St. Stephen’s Cathedral, past the elegant shops on the Graben and the Kohlmarkt. The neighborhood offers a lively combination of historic architecture, street performances, shoppers’ delights and true Viennese atmosphere. 

Excursion(s) - "Do as the Locals Do" Vienna walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Year after year, it’s ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world. Experience Vienna as the Viennese do and you will quickly see why—it’s not just because of its beautiful architecture, peerless cultural institutions and epic history. Vienna’s a walkable city, but its public transportation is still excellent. The pleasant parks and open spaces invite outdoor activities. Its cozy coffee houses are the stuff of legend, and so are its pastries and sausage stands. Join an expert local guide for a taste of life as the Viennese live it. Walk along Ring Street, past many of Vienna’s landmark buildings: the Museum of Applied Arts, the baroque-era St. Charles Church, Musikverein (home of the Vienna Philharmonic), the Hofburg, Parliament and City Hall, on your way to Volksgarten, Vienna’s first public park (thanks to Napoleon, who blew up the bastion that had occupied the location), with its roses and fountains. Stroll along the neighboring streets, then take a break at a coffeehouse for a typical Viennese coffee.

After your break, wander through the narrow lanes of Haarhoff, pausing in Jewish Square, with its tribute to the Austrian Jews who died during the Holocaust, before wending your way to Vienna’s oldest square, Hoher Markt, where one of the city’s quirkiest sights awaits you: At noon a Vienna Secession (as the art nouveau movement was known in Austria) clock features a parade of 12 historical figures, ranging from Marcus Aurelius to Joseph Haydn, marking the hour. While you wait for the clock show to begin, sample a classic Viennese treat, sausage, from a nearby stand. The adventure ends with yet another very typical Viennese activity—taking the subway.

Excursion(s) - Schönbrunn Palace after-hours tour
$99
Excursion(s) - Culinary Vienna, food and art
$73

Day 5 - Dürnstein, Cruising the Wachau Valley, Melk

Port - Dürnstein

Dürnstein is one of our favorite towns along the Danube, a lovely place to wander cobblestone lanes, browse quaint shops and maybe hike up to a ruined castle (with an intriguing tale all its own). You can also opt for a tasting at Austria’s oldest winery or learn all about the world’s costliest spice from the Wachau Valley’s only saffron grower. Later, visit the 900-year-old Melk Abbey and its extraordinary baroque-style library. You’ll want to find a comfortable seat in the lounge or on the Sun Deck as your ship cruises through the Wachau Valley today. Over the eons, the Danube cut a gorge through the foothills of the Bohemian Mountains, resulting in a 19-mile (30-kilometer) stretch of riverine scenery so beautiful, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Landscape. Castle ruins dominate hilltops; baroque church towers appear on the river banks, marking historic villages and splendid abbeys; and vineyards and apricot orchards cling to the rocky slopes. Some of Austria’s finest white wines are produced from grapes ripening on the dry-stone terraces above the river, where grapes have been grown for 2,000 years. You have two ports of call in the incredibly scenic valley, Dürnstein and Melk, and an assortment of delightful ways to explore this lovely region.

Excursion(s) - Melk Abbey with library visit
Excursion Price - $70

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey—and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is; Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Medieval monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from dark to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own, or you can take the motorcoach back to the ship.

Excursion(s) - Dürnstein village stroll and saffron workshop
Excursion Price - $70

Crusaders planted the first saffron crocuses in the Wachau Valley at the end of the 12th century, making saffron a valued crop for 700 years—but it disappeared from the terraced hillsides early in the 20th century. It wasn’t until 2007 that an ecologist found mention of it in an 18th-century document at Melk Abbey’s celebrated library. Bernard Kaar, who spent years researching the history of saffron and still more years cultivating the world’s only bio-dynamically certified saffron, is one of the Wachau’s most important producers. Meet Bernard and his wife, Alexandra, for a fascinating introduction to saffron—the plant, the spice and the cultural traditions— and educate your taste buds with flavorful delicacies as you taste red-wine-and-saffron chocolate and saffron-seasoned jams, vinegars and honey. Once you are ready to depart, your host will walk with you to Dürnstein’s Kremser Gate, which dates to the 15th century, and point out the path to the ruined castle above the town, where Richard the Lionheart was famously imprisoned. You can hike up to the ruins or continue to stroll through the charming village, past the blue baroque tower of the abbey church and the picturesque 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century houses.

Excursion(s) - Dürnstein wine estate visit with tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Considering its diminutive size, the village of Dürnstein offers much to explore. The famous blue baroque tower of the abbey church is doubtless its best-known landmark, but the ruined castle above the town provides its most romantic tale. There Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned until he was found by his faithful bard, Blondel, and ransom could be raised—or so the legend goes. Walk along the town’s narrow streets, past 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century houses; it’s an up-close look at over 300 years of architecture. And there’s no better way to conclude your village stroll than with a special tasting of organic wines at Nikolaihof, perhaps the oldest winery in Austria. The location itself is fascinating: One may encounter remnants of the first buildings on the site—an ancient Roman fort—and taste wines in a deconsecrated 15th-century chapel. Owned by the Saahs family, Nikolaihof produces some of the world’s best Riesling and Veltliner varietals; in fact, the 1995 Riesling Vinothek, bottled in 2012, actually scored 100 points in The Wine Advocate, the first Austrian wine ever to rank that highly.


Day 6 - Linz (Salzburg or Linz)

Port - Linz

Salzburg or Linz? Both are equally tantalizing. Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg is nestled in a glorious alpine setting that sparkles like a winter wonderland; Linz may be best known for its famous Linzer torte, but it’s also a hotbed for the arts. See the sights with a local expert, or go behind-the-scenes at the Linz opera house and taste cider at an apple and pear orchard. Austria’s third-largest city, Linz boasts a long history of trading (especially in salt) and textile manufacturing—not to mention steel—but these days it is perhaps best known for its lively arts and music scene. It is also your gateway to Salzburg.

Excursion(s) - Full-day in Salzburg
Excursion Price - $70

A 900-year-old fortress stands staunchly above Salzburg’s historic center, but the city is much better known for its musical heritage than it is for any military activities. Mozart was born here, performed in public for the first time (at the age of five) here and composed his first pieces here. Salzburg celebrates its most famous son in many forms: with statues, chocolates and festivals—but there are other musical associations to discover too. Walk with your guide through the Mirabell Gardens, the beautiful formal gardens where Maria sang “Do-Re-Mi” with her young charges in the movie The Sound of Music, and admire Mirabell Castle, built in 1606 by Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau for his mistress. The archbishop’s official residence, however, lies on the other side of the river, near the cathedral. You’ll ramble through the UNESCO-designated Old Town, where narrow lanes branch off your route, tempting you to explore the shops and cafés that line them, and cross the bridge for a look at the great 17th-century cathedral and the splendid episcopal residence. (Mozart worked for the archbishop of his day—whom he despised— before he moved to Vienna.) It’s part of a group of churches and priestly residences that are linked by arcades that you may wish to check out after your tour.

Note: Lunch is not offered with the full day at Salzburg.

Excursion(s) - Linz town and country: opera house and cider farm visit
Excursion Price - $70

Linz’s New Cathedral dates to the 19th century (the old cathedral, a few blocks away, was built in the baroque era), but as you take in its neo-Gothic splendor, you might guess that it is much older—until you notice that the stained-glass windows include 19th-century Linz notables. Linz’s new opera house, however, is quite new: It opened in 2013. Covering several city blocks, the Terry Pawson-designed complex incorporates state-of-the-art backstage workshops and staging equipment, which your guide will show you. In explaining why Linz undertook this incredibly ambitious and expensive project, the governor of Upper Austria said, “Culture costs, but the absence of culture costs much, much more.”

A motorcoach will carry you into Mostviertel, Lower Austria’s famous cider region, where the road winds among beautiful orchard-covered hills and verdant meadows. Tour a typical farm for an insightful look at rural life and local crops, and enjoy the fruit of these orchards—pear and apple ciders—over a delicious lunch of foods produced on the farm.


Day 7 - Passau

Port - Passau

Passau is a crossroads in more ways than one, as three rivers meet here and three nations nearly do, making for a fascinating cultural mosaic. Get to know the town and its main claim to fame—Europe’s largest pipe organ—or “Let's Go” with an invigorating riverside hike or bike ride. Three rivers meet in Passau—the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube—and three nations almost meet: Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Its central location made it a trade hub for centuries, and with trade came wealth that endowed the town with many beautiful buildings. Spend some time exploring the town itself or get out and about along the Inn or the Ilz with a bike ride or a hike.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Passau walking tour with St. Stephan's organ concert
Excursion Price - $70

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephan’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a magnificent new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures flaunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes.

Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet. But one of the highlights will be aural: Settle into a pew beneath St. Stephan’s exquisite frescoes and listen to the largest organ in Europe fill the cathedral with glorious music.

Note: St. Stephan’s organ concert is only available from May 1 to October 31, excluding Sundays and Catholic holidays.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” bicycle ride along the Inn River
Excursion Price - $70

The Inn River rises in the Alps, near Innsbruck (hence the name of the famous Swiss ski resort) and flows through three nations (Switzerland, Austria and Germany) on its way to Passau, where it joins the Danube. While the Danube bike path may be Europe’s best-known route for bicyclists, the Inn River bike path, which follows the river from Innsbruck to Passau, has plenty of fans. The route through the Inn River valley outside Passau is an especially attractive stretch, with great views of the lovely countryside, picturesque villages and the sparkling clear river itself. Your guide will make sure you know the local traffic and safety rules before you and your group set out along the mostly flat and paved path, and he will also make sure you have time to appreciate the sight of the three rivers—the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube—merging in Passau. You’ll be traveling on both sides of the river, crossing between Germany and Austria as you cross the Inn, and your journey will include a stop for a typical Bavarian snack of dark bread, local ham or cheese, and perhaps a glass of wine. All in all, it’s an idyllic way to enjoy the scenery and get some exercise at the same time.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” hike along the Ilz River
Excursion Price - $70

Put on your hiking boots, grab a windbreaker and a bottle of water, and head out with a local hiking guide and nature expert to explore the banks of the Ilz River. This small but rushing tributary of the Danube originates deep in the Bavarian Forest, near the Czech border, and is just 40 miles (65 kilometers) long. Its upper stretch is a premier whitewater rafting location, but you’ll be hiking along the lower, serene end of the river. Your starting point is Hals-Hochstein, where you’ll pick up a nature trail that follows a curve of the river and then climbs a steep hill, where you have a great view of the river and woodlands. You will cross the river repeatedly, once by way of a dam and again toward the end of your four-mile (6.5-kilometer) hike, as you loop back to the Hals. 

Excursion(s) - Munich Oktoberfest
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Bavarian Country Cooking Class
$288

Day 8 - Passau (Disembark)

Port - Passau

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Munich Airport for your flight home.

Passau to Budapest


Day 1 - Passau (Embark)

Port - Passau

Arrive at Munich Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Passau, Cruising the Danube River

Port - Passau

Passau is a crossroads in more ways than one, as three rivers meet here and three nations nearly do, making for a fascinating cultural mosaic. Get to know the town and its main claim to fame—Europe’s largest pipe organ—or “Let's Go” with an invigorating riverside hike or bike ride. Three rivers meet in Passau—the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube—and three nations almost meet: Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Its central location made it a trade hub for centuries, and with trade came wealth that endowed the town with many beautiful buildings. Spend some time exploring the town itself or get out and about along the Inn or the Ilz with a bike ride or a hike.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Passau walking tour with St. Stephan's organ concert
Excursion Price - $70

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephan’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a magnificent new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures flaunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes.

Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet. But one of the highlights will be aural: Settle into a pew beneath St. Stephan’s exquisite frescoes and listen to the largest organ in Europe fill the cathedral with glorious music.

Note: St. Stephan’s organ concert is only available from May 1 to October 31, excluding Sundays and Catholic holidays

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” bicycle ride along the Inn River
Excursion Price - $70

The Inn River rises in the Alps, near Innsbruck (hence the name of the famous Swiss ski resort) and flows through three nations (Switzerland, Austria and Germany) on its way to Passau, where it joins the Danube. While the Danube bike path may be Europe’s best-known route for bicyclists, the Inn River bike path, which follows the river from Innsbruck to Passau, has plenty of fans. The route through the Inn River valley outside Passau is an especially attractive stretch, with great views of the lovely countryside, picturesque villages and the sparkling clear river itself. Your guide will make sure you know the local traffic and safety rules before you and your group set out along the mostly flat and paved path, and he will also make sure you have time to appreciate the sight of the three rivers—the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube—merging in Passau. You’ll be traveling on both sides of the river, crossing between Germany and Austria as you cross the Inn, and your journey will include a stop for a typical Bavarian snack of dark bread, local ham or cheese, and perhaps a glass of wine. All in all, it’s an idyllic way to enjoy the scenery and get some exercise at the same time.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” hike along the Ilz River
Excursion Price - $70

Put on your hiking boots, grab a windbreaker and a bottle of water, and head out with a local hiking guide and nature expert to explore the banks of the Ilz River. This small but rushing tributary of the Danube originates deep in the Bavarian Forest, near the Czech border, and is just 40 miles (65 kilometers) long. Its upper stretch is a premier whitewater rafting location, but you’ll be hiking along the lower, serene end of the river. Your starting point is Hals-Hochstein, where you’ll pick up a nature trail that follows a curve of the river and then climbs a steep hill, where you have a great view of the river and woodlands. You will cross the river repeatedly, once by way of a dam and again toward the end of your four-mile (6.5-kilometer) hike, as you loop back to the Hals. 


Day 3 - Linz (Salzburg or Linz)

Port - Linz

Salzburg or Linz? Both are equally tantalizing. Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg is nestled in a glorious alpine setting that sparkles like a winter wonderland; Linz may be best known for its famous Linzer torte, but it’s also a hotbed for the arts. See the sights with a local expert, or go behind-the-scenes at the Linz opera house and taste cider at an apple and pear orchard. Austria’s third-largest city, Linz boasts a long history of trading (especially in salt) and textile manufacturing—not to mention steel—but these days it is perhaps best known for its lively arts and music scene. It is also your gateway to Salzburg.

Excursion(s) - Full-day in Salzburg
Excursion Price - $70

A 900-year-old fortress stands staunchly above Salzburg’s historic center, but the city is much better known for its musical heritage than it is for any military activities. Mozart was born here, performed in public for the first time (at the age of five) here and composed his first pieces here. Salzburg celebrates its most famous son in many forms: with statues, chocolates and festivals—but there are other musical associations to discover too. Walk with your guide through the Mirabell Gardens, the beautiful formal gardens where Maria sang “Do-Re-Mi” with her young charges in the movie The Sound of Music, and admire Mirabell Castle, built in 1606 by Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau for his mistress. The archbishop’s official residence, however, lies on the other side of the river, near the cathedral. You’ll ramble through the UNESCO-designated Old Town, where narrow lanes branch off your route, tempting you to explore the shops and cafés that line them, and cross the bridge for a look at the great 17th-century cathedral and the splendid episcopal residence. (Mozart worked for the archbishop of his day—whom he despised— before he moved to Vienna.) It’s part of a group of churches and priestly residences that are linked by arcades that you may wish to check out after your tour.

Note: Lunch is not offered with the full day at Salzburg.

Excursion(s) - Linz town and country: opera house and cider farm visit
Excursion Price - $70

Linz’s New Cathedral dates to the 19th century (the old cathedral, a few blocks away, was built in the baroque era), but as you take in its neo-Gothic splendor, you might guess that it is much older—until you notice that the stained-glass windows include 19th-century Linz notables. Linz’s new opera house, however, is quite new: It opened in 2013. Covering several city blocks, the Terry Pawson-designed complex incorporates state-of-the-art backstage workshops and staging equipment, which your guide will show you. In explaining why Linz undertook this incredibly ambitious and expensive project, the governor of Upper Austria said, “Culture costs, but the absence of culture costs much, much more.”

A motorcoach will carry you into Mostviertel, Lower Austria’s famous cider region, where the road winds among beautiful orchard-covered hills and verdant meadows. Tour a typical farm for an insightful look at rural life and local crops, and enjoy the fruit of these orchards—pear and apple ciders—over a delicious lunch of foods produced on the farm.


Day 4 - Melk, Cruising the Wachau Valley, Dürnstein

Port - Dürnstein

Dürnstein is one of our favorite towns along the Danube, a lovely place to wander cobblestone lanes, browse quaint shops and maybe hike up to a ruined castle (with an intriguing tale all its own). You can also opt for a tasting at Austria’s oldest winery or learn all about the world’s costliest spice from the Wachau Valley’s only saffron grower. Later, visit the 900-year-old Melk Abbey and its extraordinary baroque-style library. You’ll want to find a comfortable seat in the lounge or on the Sun Deck as your ship cruises through the Wachau Valley today. Over the eons, the Danube cut a gorge through the foothills of the Bohemian Mountains, resulting in a 19-mile (30-kilometer) stretch of riverine scenery so beautiful, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Landscape. Castle ruins dominate hilltops; baroque church towers appear on the river banks, marking historic villages and splendid abbeys; and vineyards and apricot orchards cling to the rocky slopes. Some of Austria’s finest white wines are produced from grapes ripening on the dry-stone terraces above the river, where grapes have been grown for 2,000 years. You have two ports of call in the incredibly scenic valley, Dürnstein and Melk, and an assortment of delightful ways to explore this lovely region.

Excursion(s) - Melk Abbey with library visit
Excursion Price - $70

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey—and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is; Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Medieval monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from dark to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own, or you can take the motorcoach back to the ship.

Excursion(s) - Dürnstein village stroll and saffron workshop
Excursion Price - $70

Crusaders planted the first saffron crocuses in the Wachau Valley at the end of the 12th century, making saffron a valued crop for 700 years—but it disappeared from the terraced hillsides early in the 20th century. It wasn’t until 2007 that an ecologist found mention of it in an 18th-century document at Melk Abbey’s celebrated library. Bernard Kaar, who spent years researching the history of saffron and still more years cultivating the world’s only bio-dynamically certified saffron, is one of the Wachau’s most important producers. Meet Bernard and his wife, Alexandra, for a fascinating introduction to saffron—the plant, the spice and the cultural traditions— and educate your taste buds with flavorful delicacies as you taste red-wine-and-saffron chocolate and saffron-seasoned jams, vinegars and honey. Once you are ready to depart, your host will walk with you to Dürnstein’s Kremser Gate, which dates to the 15th century, and point out the path to the ruined castle above the town, where Richard the Lionheart was famously imprisoned. You can hike up to the ruins or continue to stroll through the charming village, past the blue baroque tower of the abbey church and the picturesque 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century houses.

Excursion(s) - Dürnstein wine estate visit with tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Considering its diminutive size, the village of Dürnstein offers much to explore. The famous blue baroque tower of the abbey church is doubtless its best-known landmark, but the ruined castle above the town provides its most romantic tale. There Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned until he was found by his faithful bard, Blondel, and ransom could be raised—or so the legend goes. Walk along the town’s narrow streets, past 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century houses; it’s an up-close look at over 300 years of architecture. And there’s no better way to conclude your village stroll than with a special tasting of organic wines at Nikolaihof, perhaps the oldest winery in Austria. The location itself is fascinating: One may encounter remnants of the first buildings on the site—an ancient Roman fort—and taste wines in a deconsecrated 15th-century chapel. Owned by the Saahs family, Nikolaihof produces some of the world’s best Riesling and Veltliner varietals; in fact, the 1995 Riesling Vinothek, bottled in 2012, actually scored 100 points in The Wine Advocate, the first Austrian wine ever to rank that highly.


Day 5 - Vienna

Port - Vienna

Vienna is a cultural treasure trove revered for its art and music (and sinfully rich pastries). Experience the City of Waltzes with your choice of tours, as well as VIP access to an extraordinary collection of art—you’ll have an opportunity to view it in complete privacy, an extra special treat reserved solely for Uniworld guests. How to cap off a perfect Viennese day? An evening concert featuring works by Mozart and Strauss. The grand dame of the Danube, Vienna was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remains, to this day, the political and cultural center of Austria. Klimt painted here; Beethoven and Mozart composed here; Freud developed his theories here. It’s a treasure trove of splendid architecture, astonishing art collections and inviting cafés—and it’s yours to enjoy.

You have leisure time after your tour to explore Vienna on your own. You might wish to visit the Albertina Museum, which houses one million old-master prints and an impressive collection of works by 19th- and 20th-century painters, ranging from Renoir to Rothko.If you’d like to get a little exercise and see a completely different side of Vienna, borrow a bike from the ship and explore Danube Island and Prater Park. (For a wonderful view of the region, ride the Ferris wheel in Prater Park.)

Excursion(s) - “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum
Excursion Price - $70

The Habsburgs assembled an astonishing collection of artistic treasures over the centuries, which formed the basis for the works now on display at the Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum). The doors open early especially for you as you join an art historian for a tour of some of the masterpieces gathered here. View a unique group of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Vermeer’s Allegory of Painting, Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, and portraits by Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Titian, Tintoretto, and Van Eyck, among others, in the Picture Gallery. Then move on to the Kunstkammer galleries, where you can see Benvenuto Cellini’s legendary salt cellar (the only gold sculpture he created that has survived to the present day) and hear its remarkable story. Your exclusive tour ends with a reception in the magnificent Cupola Hall, perhaps the architectural highlight of the splendid building.

Excursion(s) - Mozart and Strauss concert
Excursion Price - $70

Experience the sort of entertainment Empress Maria Theresa once enjoyed herself with a private concert of classical music performed by chamber musicians in an exquisite Viennese palace. The music, of course, is by Mozart—but because this is Vienna, it is also by Strauss, and the perfect acoustics in the elegant hall will let you hear their music as if for the first time. Adding to your enjoyment: Beautifully costumed ballroom dancers bring the waltz to graceful life.

Excursion(s) - Vienna - Imperial City Highlights
Excursion Price - $70

Ring Street, the great horseshoe-shaped boulevard lined with many of the city’s major landmarks—Parliament, City Hall, the Vienna State Opera, glorious palaces and museums—is a mere 150 years old, practically an infant for a city of Vienna’s age. It replaced the walls and fortifications that had protected the city for centuries. Its construction was a testament to confidence, forward-thinking and grand urban planning, and it resulted in a 50-year building spree. You’ll pass most of these opulent landmarks on your way to the older section of the city, the area the walls once enclosed.

Later, you’ll walk along Kärntner Street, the celebrated pedestrian boulevard that links the State Opera with St. Stephen’s Cathedral, past the elegant shops on the Graben and the Kohlmarkt. The neighborhood offers a lively combination of historic architecture, street performances, shoppers’ delights and true Viennese atmosphere. 

Excursion(s) - "Do as the Locals Do" Vienna walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Year after year, it’s ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world. Experience Vienna as the Viennese do and you will quickly see why—it’s not just because of its beautiful architecture, peerless cultural institutions and epic history. Vienna’s a walkable city, but its public transportation is still excellent. The pleasant parks and open spaces invite outdoor activities. Its cozy coffee houses are the stuff of legend, and so are its pastries and sausage stands. Join an expert local guide for a taste of life as the Viennese live it. Walk along Ring Street, past many of Vienna’s landmark buildings: the Museum of Applied Arts, the baroque-era St. Charles Church, Musikverein (home of the Vienna Philharmonic), the Hofburg, Parliament and City Hall, on your way to Volksgarten, Vienna’s first public park (thanks to Napoleon, who blew up the bastion that had occupied the location), with its roses and fountains. Stroll along the neighboring streets, then take a break at a coffeehouse for a typical Viennese coffee.

After your break, wander through the narrow lanes of Haarhoff, pausing in Jewish Square, with its tribute to the Austrian Jews who died during the Holocaust, before wending your way to Vienna’s oldest square, Hoher Markt, where one of the city’s quirkiest sights awaits you: At noon a Vienna Secession (as the art nouveau movement was known in Austria) clock features a parade of 12 historical figures, ranging from Marcus Aurelius to Joseph Haydn, marking the hour. While you wait for the clock show to begin, sample a classic Viennese treat, sausage, from a nearby stand. The adventure ends with yet another very typical Viennese activity—taking the subway.

Excursion(s) - Schönbrunn Palace
$76

Day 6 - Vienna, Cruising the Danube River, Bratislava

Port - Vienna

Once hidden from the world behind the “Iron Curtain,” Slovakia retains an air of mystery and intrigue, and its small capital city has an unexpectedly colorful history. Learn more about Bratislava’s past from a local expert, then check out the whimsical street art and sample some only-in-Slovakia treats. Your ship sets sail from Vienna and heads for Budapest today. You may opt to relax onboard all day, perhaps enjoying a drink on the Sun Deck and taking in the scenery as the ship wends its way along the Danube Bend, which is lined with scenic towns—among them are the oldest settlements in the country—nestled at the foot of lovely wooded hills. On the other hand, the ship stops in Bratislava for those who wish to visit the capital of Slovakia. Although it’s not a large city, Bratislava has played a leading role in the politics and culture of the region for many centuries, and it is well worth a visit.

Excursion(s) - Bratislava - Small but precious walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

St. Martin’s Cathedral gives you a hint of the surprising history of this city. The Gothic church was built into the medieval city’s fortifications, and 19 Habsburg rulers were crowned inside it, including Empress Maria Theresa. That’s because Bratislava, then known as Pressburg, became the capital of Hungary after the Ottomans conquered Budapest in 1536, a status it retained until the middle of the 19th-century. Close to the cathedral you’ll find St. Michael’s Gate, the last remaining portal of the medieval wall—and your entryway into Bratislava’s Old Town, which blends Gothic, baroque and art deco structures with some less graceful reminders of the Communist era. The stately 18th-century Primatial Palace, in the center of Old Town, was the site where the Pressburg peace treaty was signed in 1805, in which Austria ceded a great deal of territory to Napoleon. Another 18th-century palace, Grassalkovich, is now the president of Slovakia’s official residence. Take some time after the tour to browse through the attractive shops in the lovely art deco buildings that line the squares; you can find a wide selection of traditional folk items at the ULUV (Slovak Folk Culture) shop. And you’ll definitely want to sample some of the local delicacies.

Excursion(s) - Culinary Vienna, food and art
$73

Day 7 - Budapest

Port - Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each has its own distinctive character and charm. Explore this dynamic and multi-faceted city with your choice of tours—see it on four wheels or on your own two feet.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Budapest panoramic highlights and Parliament visit
Excursion Price - $70

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the state opera house, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the truly stunning Parliament Building—to Castle Hill, which has been called the heart of the nation. The city of Buda began here, when King Béla built a strong keep in 1243 as a defense against Mongol invaders; a castle replaced the simple fortress, and over the centuries other castles replaced that one. The current castle is primarily 18th century; a museum dedicated to Budapest’s archaeological finds is housed there, and the Castle Hill district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go inside the magnificent 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for one of Hungary’s greatest kings, and then wend your way on foot to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, whose seven fairytale-like towers represent the seven tribes that originally settled the region. It offers a glorious view of the city and the Danube below.

Note: Visits to the interior of Matthias Church may not be possible on some weekends and Catholic holidays.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Budapest walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Get ready for a fun immersion in the daily life of Budapest— your local guide will show you how to use the metro (one of the oldest in Europe) to easily reach all the city has to offer. Start with a visit to one of the city’s irresistible market halls. Stalls spill over with produce, sausages and meats, festoons of dried paprika, cheeses and jars of honey, all of it authentically Hungarian. After you leave the market, stop for coffee and a sweet treat at Szamos Gourmet Palace, a combination pastry shop, café and chocolate maker in Vörösmarty Square. Marzipan is a favorite confection in Budapest, and Szamos has specialized in making it since the 1930s, so you might want to try some—but the shop’s truffle selection is equally irresistible. Refreshed, you’ll be ready to hop back on the tram for a visit to the gracious green spaces of Károlyi Garden, sometimes described as Budapest’s most charming small park. You’ll ramble along the boulevards and pass the Hungarian National Museum, truly getting the feel for this dynamic city, as you head back toward the ship.

Excursion(s) - Meet Budapest
$96

Day 8 - Budapest (Disembark)

Port - Budapest

Disembark the ship and transfer to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport for your flight home, or extend your stay in Budapest.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 3,399
Price Per Day: $ 425 per day
Check Availability
Checking price
Start DateFinish DateCategory 5Category 4SuiteCruise DirectionAvailability 
Oct-27-2019Nov-04-2019$ 3,499NA$ 6,799Passau to BudapestSold Out Reserve
Nov-03-2019Nov-11-2019$ 3,499NA$ 6,799Budapest to PassauAvailable Reserve
See more

Ask Our Destination Experts

Clark Norton
Email Us

Stride Featured in

Stride Feature In

24 Uniworld Travel Reviews & Ratings

100%
5.0 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 23
Great 1
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.9
Guide
4.9
Activities
4.9
Lodging
5.0
Transportation
5.0
Meals
5.0

Enchanting Danube

Write a Review
No reviews yet for this trip. Be the first one to write a review

Company Reviews

Pros, cons and tips

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide3.0
Activities3.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation3.0
Meals4.0
This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
Read more

Highly recommend

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Me and Nena are in cruise business more than 38 years and booked so many river cruises in Europe and charter ships in Russia, India, Egypt and Ukraine. Uniworld offer excellent cruise and we highly recommend this great company.
Read more

Fantastic

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Fantastic cruising the Nile on MS River Tosca, spacious rooms, super crew, delicious meals, fantastic service, awesome waiters, knowledgeable tour guide Marwa! Would love to go back!
Read more

Professioal, friendly and unforgetable experience for the cruise

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The facility on ship was good. Staff servicing us were very professionally good. For the meals it was indeed very nice especially the kitchen was able to provide some Asian dishes that is fantastically great.
Read more

Amazing time, Amazing ship

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I had never been on a river cruise before and did not know what to expect. After this cruise, I was ready to sail right back with Uniworld. Everything on the ship, from the food and amenities, to the excursions and especially the crew, made the week one of the best I've had.
Read more

I've enjoyed 6 UW cruises

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I've enjoyed 6 UW cruises (2 of them being repeats from prior years) and feel the UW product is superior to competitors at relatively the same price point for the same itinerary and trip length. On this cruise, the ship personnel were superb in all services I experienced. The front desk, dining room and lounge personnel were always most gracious and accommodating, ditto for the cabin attendants.
Read more

Details

Ship Name

S.S. Maria Theresa

Deck & Cabin Plans

S.S. Maria Theresa


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-185

×
Great Choice!

You can access members-only savings of up to $700 on over 6,000 Stride Select trips.

Sign in to see trip eligibility

or
or
Provide email and password

With your FREE membership you get to:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
Already a member?

We respect your privacy and take great care to protect your information. By joining you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

×
×
Sign in to Save Trips
Welcome back! We're so happy to see you. ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
  • Bookmark trips you like
  • Share with your travel companions
  • Track price changes
  • Access private discounts on trips you save
×
Sign in to see your results

TripFinder is a member-only feature. Don’t worry, it’s free!

With a membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
Activate your free Stride membership

Just use the email address and password provided in the email we sent.

? Forgot Password?

With your free membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
To Follow, sign in or sign up (it's free) ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
member benefits
First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Please enter valid email address
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 32 or less characters!
Passwords are not the same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!
Please select the captcha checkbox!
Please select the valid captcha!
Something went wrong! Try again later!

x
x
Download your brochure

Enter your email to get the "" brochure.

x
Brochure successfully sent!

We've sent the "" brochure to "". Check your inbox!